Birdwatching : a growing economic
India is like a sleeping giant, having nearly 600 National Parks and Sanctuaries, and 28 especially designated Project Tiger Reserves, 8 more are to be added to the tally of these 28. Yet, most bird watching areas/habitats are not within these reserves, like Kheechan village, where about 5,000 Demoiselle Cranes winter annually, and numerous wetlands up and down the country offering food and shelter to countless number of migratory birds.
Birdwatching tourism is on the increase in India. There is great potential for overseas ‘twitchers’. More Indians are getting involved in birdwatching and there are now e-groups for birds and bird photography, where almost daily, participants make remarkable contributions. Still, bird conservation has a long way to go in India, particularly since Wildlife Conservation is given low priority. Compare this to what is happening elsewhere.
Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Park in Victoria is Australia's third largest tourist destination, after the Great Barrier Reef and Ayer's Rock. In 1995, 1,000 local jobs were dependent on the tourist trade to the park, which attracted more than half a million visitors who spent an estimated 63 million US dollars.
Every year 6,000-8,000 people visit the nature reserve of Cousin Island managed by Nature Seychelles. This was once a loss-making coconut plantation but tourism revenue now sustains the reserve (an internationally important site for seabirds and three globally threatened species) and the local community.
In South Africa, the annual expenditure by birdwatchers is around US$ 12-27 million, with the Boulders Bay Penguin colony alone worth around US$2.4 million.
1991, the birdwatching industry was worth US$ 5.2 billion in the USA
and around 191,000 jobs were dependent upon it. Between the mid-1980s
and the mid-1990s, birdwatching in the USA showed a 155% growth in
Conserving birds clearly has great economic benefits.
India’s quantification is yet to be made.
Participation profile of Indian Birding Fair at Jaipur’s Man
Sagar has been attempted in this web site. Interested? See News